Thanks to "Thrift Shop," Macklemore may be the most famous rapper out of the Pacific Northwest since Sir Mix-A-Lot. However, Seattle and the neighboring city of Portland have long shared an affinity for the kind of accessible, socially conscious hip-hop that Macklemore and production partner Ryan Lewis now turn into chart-topping hits.
The scene's roots hearken back to the late 1990s and subterranean crews like Oldominion; it gathered steam through the Massline collective of leftist activists Blue Scholars, Gabriel Teodros and RA Scion, and Christian rappers Othello, Braille, and Ohmega Watts, also known as Lightheaded. Today, the Northwest scene is just as wildly diverse. It ranges from black surrealists Shabazz Palaces to jokey satirists like Don't Talk to the Cops and underground hip-hop beat makers Blue Sky Black Death.